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  1. #16
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    At a certain point, I don't think advice from us can provide much more help - you'll have to jump in, select a certain bag from whichever brand, and try it out. Good luck.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  2. #17
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    You're looking for an objective opinion? Here???

    Okay then, the evaluation is fine. I do agree with notmensa that other manufacturers' seem to take liberties with their dimensions and capacity claims. I think I've seen one of those bags in person, but it's a very generic design that in my opinion doesn't look as well-constructed or durable, but I admit that's subjective as only you know how you will use the bag.

    I think a lifetime warranty on a $100 bag is worth exploring...
    "... If the luggage is not repairable, we’ll give you a call to discuss possible options. We do assess a flat $30 fee to cover shipping and handling. Please note that our warranty does not cover airline damage. If the luggage is damaged by an airline, you should file a claim with the airline."

    So it's costing you $30.00, and you have to ship it. In say... three years, will the bag be worth $100? $75? $25? And if your bag rips, and they can't repair it, what are these "possible options" they'll discuss with you? Ten percent off a new bag? (which by then will cost $125).

    I'm sure it's a capable bag, but you've actually seen it, and are obviously impressed by it. How did the shoulder strap look? Shoulder straps on those types of bags are usually ghastly (of course, there is a singular solution for that uncomfortable shoulder strap!). And those bags are often so ill-balanced when you load them up. Lastly, I personally like a little more isolation for my laptop and like it nestled further within the bag as opposed to on one edge of it.

    Just a few of my thoughts... but, good luck whatever you decide.

  3. #18
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    I agree that you have to be wary of these foreign-made jobbies.

    That's how I got burned during my trip to DC last March.

    I was simply trying to gain some insight from people in this forum who either have Bihn bags or at least have seen them in-person. I have not, but I've read many good things about them. Reading about Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer in MACWORLD magazine is how I found this site in the first place!

    One thing strikes me about this kind of merchandise: I have no problem at all Googling reviews of USA-made bags from the likes of Bihn and Red Oxx; there's no lack of enthusiasm about them on the web. But when it comes to seeking out independent reviews of foreign-made bags like the Safe Passage, they're either not as detailed or they're much harder to find. I've read some comments from satisfied customers, but only a fraction of the enthusiasm is evident.

    Now, I did like what I saw at the meeting the other night. The Orvis looked like a nice bag; judging from the images I've discovered on independent reviews of Bihn bags on the web, and comparing those images to what I saw in person, I'd say the Orvis had something at least vaguely similar to the kind of material used on the Bihn Super Ego. The exterior looked like it could be 1050 d Ballistic and the interior looked like Dyneema images I've discovered. I was impressed with how it looked. This did not so much sell me on Orvis as it impressed upon me what bags made of similar material from Bihn, Red Oxx and MEI/Genuine Gear might look like. Once thing I really did like about the Orvis specifically was the metal gear connecting the shoulder strap to the bag. Another thing is that the bag did seem to have impressive capacity.

    On the negative side, I tried to imagine choosing this bag over a Super Ego with a Brain Cell on board. No thanks. Definitely a raspberry-buzzer there. My current Kensington Saddlebag cost me about $40 when I bought it new. If I'm going to spend more than that, I want something more than just good looks and great capacity. I want something with real style, American-made quality and superior protection and expandability options you can't get anywhere else. That puts Bihn's Super Ego in first place. Orvis may have cute bag there, and it may have a nice price, but it seems to me Bihn has the superior value on a number of fronts.

    I figured there wouldn't be anything wrong with seeking out feedback here on the forum from Bihn customers who could give first-hand feedback... They may be a little biased, but that's okay...

  4. #19
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    If you're that unsure, maybe order something small and see how you like it? That's what I did. I ordered a clear organizer wallet and a stuff sack. I was so impressed with those that I'm not hesitating on making more and larger purchases.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    One thing strikes me about this kind of merchandise: I have no problem at all Googling reviews of USA-made bags from the likes of Bihn and Red Oxx; there's no lack of enthusiasm about them on the web. But when it comes to seeking out independent reviews of foreign-made bags like the Safe Passage, they're either not as detailed or they're much harder to find. I've read some comments from satisfied customers, but only a fraction of the enthusiasm is evident.
    i don't think the country of manufacture is the determining factor in the availability of reviews.

    you generally will find that an experience at one extreme or the other (where one is extremely pleased with a product/service, or where one has an extremely negative experience with a product/service) that results in an individual going out of their way to share their experience. think about it - when one goes to dinner and has an average dining experience - good food, good service, etc., but nothing out of the ordinary - one says thank you very much, leaves a nice tip, goes on home from there, and that's about the end of it. on the other hand, if the meal is exceptional, if the service is exceptional, one is more likely to take the time to write a thank you letter to the restaurant applauding the exceptional customer service rendered by the waiter or waitress taking care of them, as well as the meal they enjoyed. they may go online and write a review about that restaurant. similarly, if one has an especially horrific evening, they are likely to speak with the management about what is happening.

    also, one's interest in certain types of products/service results in them reviewing a variety of that type of product/service. for example, a food critic may go around town sampling a variety of different dining choices and rating and writing about them. here, also, you hear about the ones that are at the top. for example, washingtonian magazine rates the top 100 restaurants in the dc metro area each year. and folks pay attention to the ones at the top.

  6. #21
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    As a matter of fact, I did recently make a (small) purchase from both Bihn (corded zipper pulls and "strapeez") and Red Oxx (cellphone belt clip). Am fully satisfied with both purchases. I look forward to shopping at both web-sites in the future.

    As for Maverick's "top 100" message, I mostly agree. I do note, however, there is a special zeal among web reviews I've seen toward American-made, high-quality bags. They apparently are seen as something special, and I tend to concur.

  7. #22
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    I understand how you feel MtnMan, I am very careful with what I buy and it takes me a while to decide.

    But... when I needed a strong bag to carry two laptops, I was in the middle of organizing my first cross-country move.
    For a couple of months, we had to keep two rentals at the opposite side of the country.
    To say that money was tight is an understatement.

    But, I was determined to find a bag that would be strong enough to hold my laptops and protect them.


    I went all over town, San Francisco, to test many laptop backpacks in the flesh. I am sure you have similar offerings in DC.

    I tested all the brands from the high end to the cheapest options at bargain places.


    The Brain Bag, a Monolith (vertical Brain Cell ancestor) and a Soft Cell (Cache ancestor) won out.
    I loved the feeling of strength that came out of the bag looks.

    Darcy was a tremendous help during the ordering process: I wanted to make sure I got the right size for my laptops, I pondered on color, size of the bag...
    She answered all my questions with a smile.



    The Brain Bag and accessories was my second most expensive purchase on a bag and accessories.
    I will not buy other brands of bags.

    The other brand, a big name, has lost me as a customer, I paid top dollar for their stuff and it is low quality.


    I am no longer a messenger/briefcase style person but I had my share of them. All duds, none a Tom Bihn bag.

    Thoughts on the bags you like.

    The green one is foreign made (I don't care what brand name is has on, it is a cheap job)
    Design:
    I have one word for the padding in the handles and strap, flimsy.
    The zipper is the cheap kind.
    The color is not professional looking.


    I never took a good look at the Super Ego before because I am a backpack kind of person.
    But the color are gorgeous and professional looking and you have a choice in the matter.

    Look at the pictures of the (smiling) owners, search reviews on the site, read the blog, link to close up pictures of the Ego by a customer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefnob...-57753561@N00/

    It is made in the U.S.A by Tom Bihn Inc.


    You can order it with an Absolute Shoulder Strap, play with the bag at home, fill it up with stuff, try it on in front of the mirror and decide if it is right for you.
    If not, return it and try the Ego or ID, if you don't like those either, don't keep them.


    And go for the cheap job which will flake on you at the most critical moment:
    right before an important presentation,
    at the airport, in the middle of 2 hours long security line or on your way to an early flight.
    on the metro, at rush hour,
    Been there, done that, never again.

    Whatever you do, keep the Absolute Strap, your shoulders will love you.
    Last edited by backpack; 10-01-2009 at 09:55 AM.

  8. #23
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    Thanks for your perspective. Very informative. Loved the mega-group-slideshow. Especially the kitty in the bag.

    If I had the money right now, I would buy a Super Ego, Brain Cell, Horizontal Freudian Slip, some Organizer Pouches, a Guardian Light, a Q-AM Strap, and maybe an Absolute Strap to keep on-hand as an option. This would replace my Kensington Saddlebag, and my briefcase, plus it would assume some of the duties now being done my my aging Wal Mart backbpack as well. I only have less than half the money needed to get everything I would want, so the purchase will be delayed.

    I still like the Empire Builder briefcase and both the Smart Alec and Brain Bag backpacks, but anything like that will have to wait even further down the road.

    The reason I ultimately chose a Super Ego is that I currently have a 15-inch MacBook Pro, but if I replace it with a new one down the road it will likely by the bigger 17-inch MBP (I do video editing with Final Cut) and this would rule out anything smaller than a Super Ego. I also ruled out backpacks, because after lugging my Kensington Saddlebag as a backpack when I visited Capitol Hill in March, I learned the hard way that backpacks and suits don't mix. It would be neat to have a premium-quality businessman's backpack, but nobody makes anything like a Saddlebag. Brain Bag and Smart Alec aren't even close. Think of a Saddlebag as a backpack version of an ID; you get the idea. (Well, the Kensington is much lower quality and versatility, of course.)

  9. #24
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    I'm finally ready to purchase, (!!!) and I have a couple of lingering questions.

    About o-rings...

    How many o-rings are in each of these bags...

    Super Ego
    Empire Builder
    Brain Bag
    Smart Alec

    I know I will not be able to affrord to buy any organizer pouches right away, but after seeing Maverick's excellent videos, I will build up money for pouches and other accessories the next time around.

    Also...

    How many pen slots and pockets are built into each of the above bags?

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    I'm finally ready to purchase, (!!!) and I have a couple of lingering questions.

    About o-rings...

    How many o-rings are in each of these bags...

    Super Ego
    Empire Builder
    Brain Bag
    Smart Alec

    I know I will not be able to affrord to buy any organizer pouches right away, but after seeing Maverick's excellent videos, I will build up money for pouches and other accessories the next time around.

    Also...

    How many pen slots and pockets are built into each of the above bags?
    for the smart alec:

    as mentioned in this thread:

    you'll find an o-ring inside of the main compartment of the smart alec...

    there are also o-rings in the side compartments of the smart alec where these accessories can easily be attached.
    as mentioned in the product page, the smart alec's "side pocket has two pen slots." you can also see this illustrated in picture "k" from the product page (also reproduced below).



    additionally, this video illustrates where the o-rings and pen slots are located.

  11. #26
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    Thank you. Yes, I remember those references. So we know that the Smart Alec has 3 or 4 o-rings. What about the other bags?

    I'm trying to get a feel for how they compare. Do any of other bags I mentioned ship without any o-rings? I was wondering how they compare because if I wanted to buy a bag now, I'd want to see if it's possible to add organizer pouches later.

  12. #27
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    (This is exciting... I feel like I'm taking part in the Louisiana Purchase!)

    In regards to the Brain Bag;

    There are three o-rings. One each in each Main Compartment; and one in the Top Pocket.

    The left pocket has:
    Three pen/pencil slots
    One business card slot
    One storage pocket

    The right pocket has:
    Four pen/pencil slots
    One storage pocket




  13. #28
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    Great! I didn't know that the Brain Bag had any o-rings. Thanks.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    Do any of other bags I mentioned ship without any o-rings? I was wondering how they compare because if I wanted to buy a bag now, I'd want to see if it's possible to add organizer pouches later.
    all of the bags you have mentioned have o-rings and organizer slots for pens.

    you don't have to purchase the organizer pouches when you purchase the bag - you can order those at any time.

    you may want to call tom bihn at +1-800-729-9607 or +1-360-452-0115 during their business hours and someone can assist you with your questions and with completing your purchase.

  15. #30
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    This afternoon, I went ahead and ordered a Super Ego messenger bag with the standard shoulder strap, Size 4Z Brain Cell for my MacBook Pro 15-inch, and a Horizontal Freudian Slip. Expected delivery date is 30 Oct. 2009, so no doubt I will have a Halloween unveiling party!

    I have absolutely no regrets for taking my time in making a selection. In fact, I was seriously considering a further delay even beyond today. One of the reasons I held off so long was to await the results on an auction on a used Tom Bihn bag I recently discovered on eBay. If it hadn't gone for over $100, I would've tried for the used Empire Builder.

    The only thing I regret is in not finding any demo online to explain the Q-AM Strap. If I could've found one, I might've included that in with my purchase. As it stands now, I'll try out the standard strap and maybe buy other straps with future accessories like organizer pouches. I will wait till I receive the Super Ego to post images before concluding this thread.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed.

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